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The Right to Work for Migrant Victims of Labour Trafficking

Thursday, 17 January 2012


The Migration Working Group welcomes the recent announcement by the Ministry of Home Affairs that it will allow migrant victims of trafficking who have suffered from labour exploitation to work after their release from government shelters. This allows migrants who have suffered from the violation of their rights and the loss of income to recuperate their losses and to remain safely in Malaysia.

We urge the Ministry to develop a transparent process for granting these migrant victims of trafficking the right to work. This process should include measures to ensure that they are not subject to further exploitation and that they have access to the services they need for their full physical, psychological and social recovery. Furthermore, provisions for access to health care and psycho-social support for trafficked persons should be formalized as part of the redress and rehabilitative efforts.

We are concerned that the Ministry will exclude from this provision migrant victims of trafficking who entered Malaysia illegally as well those who do not have their passports. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (Act 670) clearly recognizes that victims of trafficking may arrive in Malaysia illegally. Furthermore, some migrants enter Malaysia illegally without knowing, having been cheated by unscrupulous agents or duped by labour outsourcing companies. These victims should not be excluded from obtaining the right to work.

We also urge the Ministry to provide migrant victims of trafficking with legal aid and to ensure that they are able to gain effective redress through the Malaysian legal system. Access to justice remains a significant challenge for migrants, who often do not have the resources and the permission to stay in Malaysia until their cases are adjudicated.

Last but not least, we urge the Ministry to ensure that victims of sex trafficking are extended the same rights as victims of labour trafficking.

We welcome the government’s measures to bring in laws, policies and practices in line with international standards.

For more information, please contact Daniel Lo, Co-Coordinator of the Migration Working Group at 012 218 6051 (mobile) or (email)



Endorsed by the following members of the Migration Working Group:

  1. Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) Asia Pacific
  2. Coalition to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
  3. Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Asia)
  4. Foreign Spouse Support Group (FFSG)
  5. The National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
  6. Justice, Peace & Solidarity In Mission Office, Congregation of the Good Shepherd Sisters, Province of Singapore-Malaysia
  7. Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
  8. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
  9. Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI)
  10. Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
  11. Penang Office for Human Development (POHD)
  12. Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd (PKGS)
  13. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  14. Tenaganita
  15. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)


About the Migration Working Group:

The Migration Working Group (MWG) is a network of Malaysian civil society groups and individuals who advocate for the rights of migrants, refugees, stateless persons, trafficked persons and foreign spouses.





MWG c/o Women’s Aid Organisation
P.O. Box 493 Jalan Sultan
46760 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan

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